Chicago: President Barack Obama returned
to the city where he established his political base, calling
on supporters to defy expectations and tamp down a Republican
tide that many people expect to crest in Tuesday's elections.
The rally Saturday was part of a four-state weekend
campaign dash in states Obama carried in 2008 - Pennsylvania,
Connecticut, Illinois and Ohio, but where Democratic
candidates for the Senate, House and governorships are
struggling and where voters are angry about the economy,
bailouts and high unemployment.
"Chicago, it's up to you to let them know that we have
not forgotten, we don't have amnesia," the president told a
large outdoor crowd near his home, referring to the economic
recession that hit during George W Bush's presidency. He said
the election is a choice between the policies that caused the
problems and policies that will lead the country to better
Obama's efforts were shadowed by fresh news of a weak
economy still struggling to create jobs and a terror probe on
three continents after two mail bombs sent from Yemen were
found on cargo planes.
As the Republicans and Democrats mounted their final
get out the vote drives in what has been an ill-tempered and
polarising campaign, tens of thousands of people gathered on
the National Mall in Washington for a "sanity" rally organised
by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who host
late-night cable TV satirical news programmes.
Organisers insisted the "Rally to Restore Sanity
and/or Fear," wasn't about politics. Still, supporters and
left-leaning advocacy groups hoped it would rekindle some of
the voter enthusiasm for Democrats seen in 2008, particularly
among young adults.
Obama was making a last-ditch plea to the party's core
supporters, particularly young voters, to approach Tuesday's
elections with the same enthusiasm that brought him to the
White House and a wave of Democrats to Congress in 2008.
"It is difficult here in Pennsylvania, it is difficult
all across the country," Obama told about 1,500 cheering
students and volunteer campaign workers at Temple University
in Philadelphia, a Democratic-leaning city he has visited
The weekend tour marks the president's last campaign
swing of the election season, with Republicans expecting big
victories on Tuesday. Obama's sagging popularity has limited
his ability to save Democratic candidates, and his legislative
agenda may be deeply complicated if the Republicans take over
the House, as many expect.
First Published: Sunday, October 31, 2010, 15:32